Extensive Interview with Professor John Dugard – Fmr. (4th) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Professor John Dugard is the Fmr. (4th) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 (2001 to 2008). He is Professor Emeritus at the Universities of Leiden and the Witwatersr, who remains one of the most important legal and investigative voices in the history of rights and law reportage for the United Nations on this issue of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. As with the interview with Professor Richard Falk, this remained another humbling experience because of the depth of history, knowledge, subject matter expertise, and the South African heritage and nationality relevant for the instigation of the comparison with and discourse on apartheid on this topic. Their importance in the legal and rights history of this subject matter cannot be understated. In many ways, they set the tone and calibre of human rights and international humanitarian law reportage to this day. In addition, this exists as a conversation with the last United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 with extensive access for reportage on ground zero, i.e., setting foot and observing, of Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. He was the last permitted this form of access while the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 for first-person analysis of the human rights violations and breaches of international law in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories, as the subsequent three were not permitted entrance into the occupied Palestinian territories in any significant capacity. Indeed, former (6th) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, Makarim Wibisono, resigned/quit from the post, while Falk (5th) and Professor S. Michael Lynk (7th) only remain (Lynk), or only remained (Falk), able to report mostly or completely from surrounding territories and Member States with world-class coverage, fact-finding, and analysis from INGOs, NGOs, CSOs, and others in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, and internationally, to support the experiential lack grounded in denial of access.

Here we talk about the counter-responses to serious human rights advocacy and formal charges with documentation of human rights violations, non-criticism ‘criticisms,’ “frank criticism” as a problem for European representatives, individual organizational representatives mouthing state propaganda and not believing the propaganda themselves, South African heritage and nationality as a factor in analysis, common themes in some of these settler-colonial states or domains of European-Christian settler-colonialism, white supremacy as backed by religion in South Africa and the transition from this, Falk’s concept of “biblical entitlement” among some Israeli settlers, the Law of Occupation and the Fourth Geneva Convention in relation to an Occupying Power, distraction from political engagement, creationism, anti-evolutionism, apartheid, and the Evangelical movement, and apartheid discourse, the case of Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Palestine Non-Member Observer State status in regards to Canadian hypocrisy and Canadian complicity in the occupation, and the diverse nature of influences on the conflict or the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

*Interview conducted on April 9, 2020.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s start on some of the issues of when individuals historically to the present have critiqued human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories or in Israel, and the responses individuals have gotten for those, what came your way? What do you know comes people’s ways when they engage in serious human rights advocacy and charges, formal charges, with documentation, of human rights violations?

John Dugard: At the outset, you must distinguish between my role as special rapporteur and of the role as special rapporteurs of Richard Falk and S. Michael Lynk. That’s because I was allowed to visit the occupied Palestinian territory.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Dugard: I think that’s a very important distinction. I was appointed after 3 or 4 previous special rapporteurs who were sympathetic to Israel and resigned because they were opposed to the office of the special rapporteur. They thought; it was one where Israel was singled out for special attention. I think the Israeli government felt that they were on safe ground when I was appointed. I, recently, together with Richard Falk and Kamal Hussein compiled a report on the Second Intifada in 2001. Looking back at it, it was, generally, a very kind report – very kind to Israel. In the following sense, we were not sharply critical of select issues. We did not question, whether Israel practiced apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories or not. Israel had reason to believe I was not going to be much of a threat coupled with the fact that ties between Israel and South Africa were very good. Certainly, the ties were very good before the end of South African Apartheid. So, the Israeli ambassador to Geneva, at the time, said to me, “We will not cooperate with you at all as special rapporteur. But as a South African, you will not require a visa and are very welcome to visit Israel and occupied Palestine territories.” I was allowed into the occupied Palestinian territories throughout my term as special rapporteur for seven years, which meant I was able to report the facts on the ground. Both Richard and Michael have had to take evidence in neighbouring countries. In this manner, I was very different from Richard and Michael. My reports were based on what I had observed in occupied Palestine territories.

Jacobsen: What about non-criticism ‘criticisms’ coming to individuals who point out human rights violations of all parties? For instance, some might get charges of anti-Semitism if they critique policy or the illegal settlements.

Dugard: First of all, I was the special rapporteur at a time when the charge of anti-Semitism was not as developed as today. For instance, I was never accused of being anti-Semitic by the Israeli government. I was accused of anti-Semitism by the American Anti-Defamation League, U.N. Watch, and other pro-Israeli NGOs. However, the Israeli government never went that far. You must bear in mind that when I started, I focused very much on violations of human rights and violations of humanitarian law. It was only near the end of my term as special rapporteur in 2007 that I said, ‘I have a sense of déjà vu being in the occupied Palestinian territory,’ because apartheid is practiced there. Then I made the comparison with South African Apartheid. Thereafter, I became heavily criticized, particularly by the Israeli government and United States in the Human Rights Council and the United Nations in New York. They never levelled a charge of anti-Semitism at me. Although, they were heavily critical of my reports. The vitriolic criticism came from NGOs and individuals. I had a very strange experience on one occasion. I was at a protest in Bil’in when the IDF fired a tear gas canister in my direction, which exploded fairly near to me. I got a whiff of tear gas and moved away. But it was misreported in the Palestinian press that the ‘special rapporteur was hit by a tear gas canister.’ I got a profuse apology from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. I had to write back, “I was not injured at all.”

It was a very strange relationship. The Israeli Foreign Ministry kept a watch over us. If we had a difficulty with the IDF, for instance, if we were held up for several hours at a checkpoint, we would phone the Foreign Ministry. It would intervene on our behalf. I can’t say that I was well-treated, but I was treated in a fairly civil fashion. I was, of course, regularly criticized by the Israeli government, by pro-Israeli NGOs and other governments. One representative of the European Union said I was not part of the solution; but part of the problem. Europeans didn’t like my reports because they didn’t like frank criticism of Israel or the European States.

Jacobsen: When you say, “Frank criticism,” what, in general terms, constituted “frank criticism,” which amounted to a problem for the European representatives?

Dugard: Most of my reports were from observations of the situation in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza, where I travelled freely until the end of 2007. I reported very frankly on what I had seen involving violations of human rights and humanitarian law; and, in later years, I described it as apartheid, which was embarrassing to some European states. Others were more supportive. I consulted frequently with diplomats from the European Union and got a mixed response. Of course, the Israelis and the United States were equally critical. Once, in the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York, the U.S. delegate savagely criticized me, accusing me of bias and distorting the facts. During the coffee break, she came up to me and quietly apologized. She said that she had been obliged to read a speech prepared by the State Department.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Dugard: [Laughing] She clearly didn’t believe the statement read aloud by her.

Jacobsen: Is this common? In that, an individual United Nations special rapporteur dealing with one of the more difficult contexts. They acquire criticism from representatives of governments or organizations who do not even believe the criticism coming from them. They’re reading a script.

Dugard: That’s true. Many diplomats will carry out their government’s instructions of what to say in public. Others will inject personal opinions. It is important to bear in mind. I received a lot of criticism from the U.N. Secretariat. There is a tendency to think the U.N. is united in its response to the situation in Palestine with the exception of the Security Council, where the veto prevails. The U.N. Secretariat has been heavily infiltrated by the state of Israel. For instance, when I spoke to some of the senior officials during the proceedings before the International Court of Justice on the Wall, they were highly critical of the fact that the court was considering the matter at all. In fact, the Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, from the United Kingdom, told me quite frankly; he had never been in favour of the advisory opinion. The Deputy Legal Counsel of the United Nations gave an opinion advising Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, that he was not obliged to follow the advisory opinion. I don’t think one can underestimate the influence of members of the Secretariat who are very sympathetic to Israel.

Jacobsen: When did the charge of anti-Semitism become more politically useful and, indeed, powerful against those who critiqued Israeli actions as a state?

Dugard: I would identify two reasons. First of all, I think the charge that Israel practices apartheid is very serious. Israel does not like to be accused of being an apartheid state. Although, one must bear in mind; that it kept very close relations with Apartheid South Africa. So too, its supporters abroad. The attempt to define anti-Semitism in terms of the International Holocaust Alliance definition of anti-Semitism has given rise to the present situation in which there is a determination to expand the scope of anti-Semitism to include vigorous criticism of Israel’s practices. For instance, one of the provisions of the International Holocaust Alliance definition provides that it is anti-Semitic to demand of Israel a higher standard of behaviour than other states. But that’s what was the precise problem with the Apartheid South African regime. Here it was, a white regime professing to aspire to Western values, which was behaving badly. So, the international community clearly demanded of the South African government a higher standard of conduct than other States, particularly developing States. However, now, in the case of Israel, we are told if you do so that it is anti-Semitic. The definition of anti-Semitism has been widely expanded. The problem is, of course, most public figures – and ordinary persons – do not like to be accused of being anti-Semitic. So, if one starts to talk about Israel-Palestine, it is much wiser to change the subject and talk about the weather. Otherwise, you will get into trouble. If you say anything highly critical of Israel, then you will be accused of anti-Semitism.

Jacobsen: Also, as a footnote to the commentary to Apartheid South Africa – two footnotes, it was a minority white population dominating the rest of the population. Another footnote to that. You are South African. So, how does this influence personal opinion and professional substance?

Dugard: I was part of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. I directed a human rights NGO in South Africa. No one questions my credibility or my credentials as an opponent of apartheid, or someone who knew what apartheid was or wasn’t in South Africa. At the same time, I was allowed into occupied Palestinian territory for seven years by the Israeli government with permission to examine and observe the situation. So, I was given a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the two situations. I enjoy a special status when it comes to comparing apartheid in occupied Palestine territories with South African Apartheid.

Jacobsen: If we look at the history of Canadian society, of the four major settler-colonial societies – New Zealand, Australia, United States, and Canada, there was a long history of anti-Indian, in terms of the former phrasing, or anti-Indigenous peoples ideologies, actions, and policies within Canadian society. It was endorsed by the state and carried out by the churches in the cases in the Residential Schools. Our first colony in New France. There were slaves. 2/3rds were Indigenous. If we look at the educational outcomes, formal educational outcomes, of the Indigenous or the Aboriginal population today, it is different, on health, in both lifespan and healthspan. This is echoed in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. Although, I am aware New Zealand moved farther in reconciliatory efforts with the Maori. If we look at these countries, it seems similar to the situation in South Africa Apartheid. In that, it was white racists, who were the settler-colonialists in many ways. What are some common themes in some of these settler-colonial states or domains of European-Christian settler-colonialism, which was carried out in a long-term, significant, and comprehensive manner?

Dugard: I think there were similar features in all those societies, so-called white dominions – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, until the end of World War Two. It was accepted that their policies were in line with the behaviour at the time. The first criticism of South Africa came from India with the treatment of the Indian minority in South Africa, not the treatment of black South Africans. Mistreatment of black South Africans came later in 1952. So, yes, there are common features. Today, it is no surprise to me that Israel claims its strongest support from Australia and Canada, apart from the United States, because these are both settler-colonial societies. New Zealand, thankfully, dissociates itself.

Jacobsen: Some commentary in the United States and in Canada media caters to certain sensibilities from previous eras. The demographics were different. The racist and sexist ideologies were ascendant. When examining some of the commentary, we’re seeing in the rise of ethnic nationalism (or white nationalist movements) as one form of strongmanism. How is the diminishment of that ideology akin to some of the things in Apartheid South Africa? These have been catalogued by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network or the Southern Poverty Law Center in the United States. Often, it is tied to some fundamentalist interpretations of Christianity alongside the ethnic supremacist ideological leanings. How was this combatted in South Africa?

Dugard: After the 1960s, one seldom heard justification for Apartheid in terms of religion or in terms of racial superiority. This is another thing, which I find very troubling. We are seeing the opposite happening in Israel. Israeli society is becoming more and more racist in terms of beliefs and racial superiority. That is what seems to drive the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu. One looks at the behaviour of Israeli settlers, Israelis. They are clearly guided by religious sentiment into believing in racial superiority. So, they are, in fact, practicing apartheid as originally practiced in South Africa in the first ten or fifteen years of Apartheid, when it was openly a policy of racial domination.

Jacobsen: Does the concept proposed by Professor Richard Falk of “biblical entitlement” come into play with ethnic supremacism as a bubbling or rising phenomenon among Israeli settlers?

Dugard: Yes, I would agree with Richard. That clearly was the position in South Africa in the first ten or fifteen years of Apartheid. Many white South Africans believed in Apartheid as a policy of racial domination. They got some comfort from religion. However, government spokesmen were clear about “Separate Development” not being a policy of racial domination. Apartheid in South Africa was terrible. There was racial discrimination. There was oppression. But at the same time, there was a sense of idealism in that the South African government wanted Bantustans to exercise self-determination. Thus, the government established schools, clinics, and industries to encourage blacks to move to the homelands. In my opinion Israeli apartheid, at present, is, in many respects, worse than South African because there is no idealistic element to it. The Israeli government unashamedly leaves all of the humanitarian work in Palestine to foreign donors. UNRWA and individual European states have projects in the West Bank and Gaza. So, they do take the place of Israel’s obligations. They are fulfilling an obligation, in which, under the Law of Occupation, rests with Israel.

Jacobsen: The Law of Occupation here, we’re referencing the Fourth Geneva Convention about Occupying Powers or the Occupying Power. In terms of something mentioned earliest in the interview, the United Nations Security Council, the use of veto power, and in the highly biased use of veto power in the favour of Israel as a Member State of the United Nations.

Dugard: The United States has cast over 40 vetoes in favour of Israel. So, it effectively ensured the Security Council is unable to act against Israel. That’s why Resolution 2334 on settlements adopted in 2016, in the last years of the Obama regime, was so important because the United States government decided to withhold its veto. However, as a footnote, one is led to believe Joe Biden was strongly opposed to the United States dropping its veto on that occasion. The United States was much stronger in its resolutions after the 6-Day War. It gave its approval to Resolution 242, which provided the parameters for peace. Thereafter, the United States became very pro-Israel. It has become even more so today. Now, we have the strange situation. The United States promoted the establishment of the Quartet comprised of the United States, the Russian Federation, the U.N., and the E.U. to further the peace process in the Middle East. The Quartet made a number of half-hearted attempts at formulating some policy for the Middle East. However, today, it no longer operates because the United States ensures its inoperability. The United States has managed to change the attitude of member States of the Security Council towards Israel. The US has furthermore encouraged States, including Canada, to reject the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in respect of the Palestinian issue.

Jacobsen: There’s a phenomenon probably in all developed nations. It has social and political consequences most seriously seen in distraction tactics as a cultural phenomenon. For instance, there are very large followings of conspiracy groups, conspiracy theory groups. There are very large followings of fundamentalist religious groups who think the End Times are coming, or ghosts are haunting them, or demons and the Devil will be coming after them, or some secret cabal is coming to destroy the way of life for them. Does this perform a particular function with distracting some publics away from serious political engagement on issues?

Dugard: You’re talking about strange religious beliefs. I don’t think one needs to go that far. I think that the United States Evangelicals have gone a long way in formulating policy towards Israel. The Jewish community in the United States is divided, but the Evangelical community is not. Of course, the Evangelicals in America have the most anti-Semitic view of all. They believe: if the Messiah comes again, the Jews will be exterminated if they do not accept him.

Jacobsen: To clarify, we’re talking about tens of millions of Americans.

Dugard: Oh, exactly.

Jacobsen: Even as a peripheral comment, I read all – literally all – of the commentary and organizations, and articles, on creationism in Canada, and some in the United States and North America. If you look at this stuff in general, especially Intelligent Design and some others, they will say, “It is not about God or the Christian God,” and so on. It is obvious, even from leading proponents. They still state this is based on John 1:1 or the God of Intelligent Design is, ultimately, the Christian God, etc. It is the presentation of a neutral orientation. Then when one reads formal publications of the individuals coming out of these organizations, they have an explicit Christian bias. If you look at the leadership, almost all are middle-aged to elderly white males who are Christian. You see rhetorical flourishes, dissimulation, and misrepresentation to the public. It is mendacious. I think some of this rhetoric around white nationalism and religious fundamentalism is similar.

Dugard: I think there is a pretty close correlation between creationism, anti-evolutionism, and apartheid, and the Evangelical movement. Let me, by way of digression, mention, the Apartheid regime was bitterly opposed to evolution, to the teaching of evolution. It was not allowed to be mentioned in schools. So, one sees the same creationist attitude replicated in the Evangelical movement in the United States. It is the same in many of the religious communities. There is a close relationship between creationism and support for apartheid. However, that’s your subject.

Jacobsen: We see this in the United States with voter disenfranchisement, poorer schools, and stark differences in levels of poverty. These have lifelong and intergenerational effects. It may be a convenience factor to ignore the issues or to demonize particular pockets of a population, or keep people distracted with various forms of fundamentalism, whether ethnic, religious, or secular – worship of the state. Anyhow, how does this conversation around apartheid apply, not in the abstract but, in the concrete to Israeli society, Israeli settlers?

Dugard: Apartheid is, today, designated as an international crime in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It is a species of crime against humanity. It is carefully defined. So, it is, in that context, important to the International Criminal Court because the Government of Palestine has referred the practices that prevail in occupied Palestinian territories to the International Criminal Court for examination with a view to investigation and prosecution. The Government of Palestine argues that the practices of Israel in occupied Palestine meet the necessary requirements for the crime of apartheid. Basically, there are three requirements. In the first case, there should be two ethnic or racial groups, the Jewish-Israelis and the Palestinian-Arabs. So, there’s no question about two racial groups. Second, there should be certain very serious inhumane acts such as murder, extermination, torture and persecution. Third, these inhumane acts should be carried out by one racial group with the intention to suppress and dominate the other group. When one looks at the policies of Israel in occupied Palestinian territories, it is easy to find that these requirements are met. That’s why Palestine has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the crime of apartheid. Of course, the Court has other crimes before it for examination. The most obvious of these is the war crime of transferring Israeli civilians into the occupied territory of Palestine and the construction of settlements. Today, there are between 700,000 and 800,000 settlers in occupied Palestine that provide the basis for the policy of apartheid.

You have two racial groups with Jews in settlements and Palestinians who are treated differently, in much the same way blacks were treated in South Africa. The International Criminal Court is required to confront crimes of this kind – apartheid, the war crime of construction of settlements and violations of international humanitarian law. It is a difficult decision for the International Criminal Court. When one thinks about the European countries that provide the major funding for the International Criminal Court, they are very hesitant to give support to the label of apartheid being applied to Israel and Palestine because Israel may retaliate and label them as anti-Semitic. Many states and the Israeli government have sought to deflect attention from Israel’s crimes by arguing that Palestine is not a state and, therefore, has no right to bring this case before the International Criminal Court. I want to look at the whole question of apartheid in a broader perspective and to raise the question, “Why it is that Western states are unwilling to confront the evidence that apartheid is applied in the occupied Palestinian territory?” That is really what concerns me. These states are prepared to accept that Israeli settlements are unlawful; that Israel acts disproportionately in its attacks on Gaza. Even though such states are prepared to accept that Israel practices torture and demolishes Palestinian houses, they are not ready to confront the question of whether Israel practices apartheid.

I think that once most Western states accept that Israel practices apartheid that will be the end of occupation of the Palestinian territory.

Jacobsen: If we take a step back and zoom out from some of the commentary so far, with the U.N. Security Council, we have the United States using, potentially abusing, veto power 40 or more times. We have UNRWA, the European Union, various individual Member States of the United Nations, and organizations (NGOs, INGOs), funding or giving humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. Also, we have a deflection of criticism with charges of anti-Semitism or, in prior times, during your tenure as the U.N. Special Rapporteur, of “strong bias.” In a sense, this is a context in which Israel occupies Palestinian territory since the June, 1967 war followed by attempts to bring formal critiques and then the United States blocking in the U.N. Security Council, then the European Union, individual Member States, and NGOs and INGOs, funding through humanitarian aid the individuals who are most in need. Another side of that coin being the funding of the results of the hemorrhaging of human lives and an occupation, and then using charges of a particular type of racism to deflect any form of formal criticism. Is this a unique situation in the setup to favour of occupation for Israelis against Palestinians in the Palestinian territories?

Dugard: I think one has to recognize that Israel occupies a very special position in today’s world. The South African Apartheid regime after some time lost the support of Western states completely. It had no Godfather, so to speak, to wave the magic veto wand. Ultimately, the United Nations did impose sanctions and an arms embargo. That was the situation in South Africa. In the case of Israel, there are a number of factors, which provide full protection for Israel. First, the fear of the label of anti-Semitism. Second, Holocaust guilt. Many Western European nations believe, rightly, that they behaved badly during the Second World War, as they could have done more to protect Jews. So now, they are doing their best to protect Jews in Israel. Norman Finkelstein is the expert here.

Jacobsen: As a small note for readers today, the Holocaust Industry, by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, is a seminal and important text, which Professor Noam Chomsky, formerly at M.I.T. and, currently, at Arizona State University, warned him against making any moves forward there. Although, he left him open to freely do it. If he did, he would have pissed off people in high places. It would not come consequence free.

Dugard: And that happened.

Jacobsen: Yes, Noam Chomsky wrote an article called “The Fate of an Honest Intellectual.” It was a similar case with the Joan Peters book. He went through the citations, showed it was a fraud, and this was when Chomsky was particularly warning him, ‘If you point this out, you’re going to show the American intellectual community as frauds. They’re not going to like it. They’re going to come after you. And they’re going to destroy you.’ He listened, didn’t take the advice. Now, someone who should be Professor Norman Finkelstein is a Dr. Norman Finkelstein with a doctorate from Princeton University in Political Science, who has, for his intellectual integrity, and really solo adventure and careful scholarship, paid the price for his entire life.

Dugard: I know Norman well. There is another fact that I have not mentioned. In addition to Holocaust guilt and anti-Semitism, there is the strength of the Israeli lobby. Not only in the United States, but also in other Western countries. It is very powerful and has strategies in order to advance its cause ranging from outright bribery to blackmail. Those three factors ensure that Israel is protected. South Africa tried desperately to get lobbies in foreign countries. It had no arguments such as anti-Semitism, and Holocaust guilt to fall back on. In short, the South African regime was unprotected while Israel is very, very strongly protected. It is difficult to see how Israel will ever be held to account. That’s why apartheid is important because once it is accepted that Israel applies the policy of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory; it will become untenable for some Western states to support it.

Jacobsen: In 2012, there was a resolution to give Palestine Non-Member Observer State status. 130+ Member States were for, 9 were against. 1 of those was Canada. So, Canada says the right things in terms of alignment with international consensus, international morality, international law, and international rights, it does the opposite based on the voting record. How are Canadian government and policy complicit in the occupation? There is a consensus in the international community on the existence of an occupation.

Dugard: The Canadian government is complicit in the sense that it supports Israel completely. The attitude of the Canadian government in the case of Palestine before the International Criminal Court (ICC) is unusual, confusing and duplicitous. Seven states have made submissions to the pre-trial chamber of the ICC stating that they are opposed to the exercise of jurisdiction by the International Criminal Court in respect of Israel’s crimes against Palestine. These countries are Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Uganda, and Brazil. Canada has not made such a submission. But Canada has written a letter, a confidential letter, to the pre-trial chamber giving its reasons for not supporting the exercise of jurisdiction. No one knows what is in that letter; there is a suggestion that is largely circulated that Canada has said, ‘Look, we are one of the major financial contributors to the International Criminal Court. If you proceed, you might not get a contribution from us.’ That is pure speculation. However, we know that Canada has written this letter to the pre-trial chamber opposing the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court. This is a very devious approach on the part of the Canadian government. It would be good if you could find out what that letter contains.

Jacobsen: If the occupation ends, how will this change the discourse in settler-colonial societies, settler-colonial states?

Dugard: I think one must see the ending of the occupation as the first step because this will lead to the acceptance of Palestine as a separate state. Then, of course, the relation between Israel and Palestine will be the next step. Settler-colonialism will be brought to an end when the occupation is brought to an end, as far as Palestine is concerned. The Palestinian minority in Israel is another question, which we have not mentioned. But I do think the ending of the occupation is the important issue one needs to address.

Jacobsen: There are members of the secular community, even prominent ones, who make extremely ignorant commentaries and statements. In other words, they boil down all the contextualizations, all the history, all the human rights violations, all of the issues, down to one variable: religion. What would be the response to the argument or representation of the entirety of the Israeli-Palestinian issue or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Dugard: On the subject of religion, it is important to stress that different religions pose a particular problem in the case of the Middle East. This was not a problem in the case of South Africa because the black South African community is predominantly Christian and the white elite was Christian too. Islam was never accepted on a large scale in South Africa. There’s a relatively small Islamic community, largely Indian. So, religion was not a divisive factor in South Africa. The liberation struggle was led by Christian leaders. Whereas in the case of Israel-Palestine, we have two different religions. It only complicates the issue, which is another story.

Jacobsen: Mr. Dugard, thank you so much for your time, sir.

Dugard: I’ve enjoyed the conversation.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-booksfree or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

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